Monday 20 May 2024



On Sunday it is Aldersgate day. Each year at this time, I have at this date, or he Sunday closest to24May. preached to remember the two brothers John and Charles Wesley.

On 21 May, 1738, Charles was being spiritually encouraged by his sister when he read Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians, when he had a profound spiritual awakening. He wrote the first of his 6,000 hymns, ‘where  shall my wandering soul begin’.

Three days later on 24 May 1738 that John attended a service in a Chapel at Aldersgate, London, and heard a discourse of Martin Luther on Romans, when his spirit was strangely moved. He then learned that forgive ness of sin and acceptance by God, was a free gift from God, and there is nothing we can contribute on our own, as God accomplished through the death of Jesus on the Cross.

From this point onward, John at the age of 35 viewed his mission in life, as one of proclaiming the good news of salvation by faith.

The congregations of the Church of England however, closed its doors to him because of his enthusiasm.

Charles wrote a hymn, which has been treasured through the ages after John’s experience, which has been the favorite of so many peop;e, including Billy Graham, ‘And Can it be’. This described the feelings of Charles with the words, ‘my chains fell of, my heart was free, I rose got up and followed thee’.  Exactly a year, later he wrote the hymn which for many years until 1938, was always the first hymn in the Methodist Hymn book, ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’

Charles life was transformed. and he became a Curate in the Church of England at St. Mary’s Church in London, but his style of preaching upset the wardens who persuaded the Vicar to make him leave.

The two brothers, together wuth George Whitfield, who had been a priest in the Church of England but was expelled, began open air preaching, which attracted large crowds.  This offended clergy, who wouldn’t let them preach in their churches.

In 1745, when he was at the age of 40, Charles went to Wales to preach, and there he met the daughter of the local Squire, Sally Gwynne, with whom he had a happy marriage.

In 1756, he gave up itinerant ministry and settled in Bristol, with the Methodist Societies. And fifteen years later resumed preaching in London.

John was persuaded by an oxford friend John Burton and Janes Oglethorpe, the governor of Georgia, in North America, to go to America.  There he met Moravian emigrants, who he thought had spiritual peace, and he served them faithfully. He was not the sort of man who appealed to the natives.

He took to and attached to the niece of the chief magistrate, Sophia Hopkey, but she married another man, which upset John, so he barred her from Holy Communion. He fled from Georgia as persecution faced him, and returned to England.

In London, John met a Moravian named Peter Bohler, who told him he simply needed faith, and he also after reading Galatians  discovered the scriptural doctrine of justification by grace, through faith,  He followed this by visiting Aldersgate.

Whilst they were close to each other, differences occurred, and Charles was the stronger character. When John stated he was going to marry Grace Murray, Charles thought that too bad an idea and rode out to York from London, to prevent the marriage taking place.

He displayed his mind an showed dislike, when he wrote. ‘such a preacher I have never heard, and hope I shall never again. It was  beyond description, I cannot say he preached false doctrine, or any doctrine at all. (What would Charles say now?}

On another occasion, he said John has made a preacher out of a tailor, but I shall make him a tailor again.

Charles and John were still Anglican priests, and wanted to remain so. But there was too much opposition, and few sided with them for fear of consequences from the Church.  More lay preachers were made, and Charles felt they offered little depth.

Charles did not like the Methodist movement proposing to have an ordained ministry outside of the Anglican structure. Which was opposite to John’s views. They differed over fees, Charles felt he should be paid for preaching, but John disagreed.

Soon after his death, something  he always feared happened, when Methodists separated from the Church of England.

Charles died on 29 March 1788 but before his death, he sent for the Rector of the Church of Marylebone John Harley, and said, ’sir, whatever the world nay say of me, I have lived and I die a members of the Church of England.  I pray you bury me in your Churchyard. He was buried there against his brothers wishes, with eight clergymen of the Church of England as pallbearers.  A memorial stone stands close by in Marylebone High Street.

John died on 2 March 1791

Whenever people talk about Methodism. They invariably refer to John as leader, but facts show Charles was the leader of a group at Oxford, who used to go into the community to minister to people there, and such was their methodical ways, were called Methodists.  John joined and led the group later as it grew.

John has been seen as the natural leader by virtue of his sound biblical preaching, Charles has been viewed more as a hymn writer.

People need to research to find John’s sermons, but the hymns of Charles still inspire and delight all who hear them. I have seen Ministers insist on choosing only Chares hymns. They shared the spread of Christianity together, and led the only revival in England. Indeed, Methodism has spread across the world, especially in the United States of America. 

No one can deny that the Wesley’s, and the Methodist Movement, had an effect on Britain at this time. Historians generally agree that the evangelical revival had a profound effect on stemming a revolutionary tide in the country. Conditions were improved by changing the hearts of the people; many of the wealthy became more caring towards the workers, and the artisan working classes acted more respectfully and civilised. On one occasion in Wales a group of theatrical people protested that Methodist preaching was proving too much of an attraction and was threatening their business.

As we look at Methodism to-day, we see a marked decline in attendances. This applies to all Churches in the Western Hemisphere, but the decision to allow same sex marriage in Churches has  added unnecessary depletion. This is distinctly contrary to the Word of God, it is false doctrine. What two or one people do is a personal issue, and should not be interfered with, but the Church is disobeying God, Jesus and the Apostles by giving it approval. I can only think John and Charles would be heart-broken if they knew how modern Methodism has been the subject of unworthy action.

A survey was carried out to all members of the Church seeking opinion as to whether such marriages be approved, and there was a clear answer—NO.  It had to be accepted, but it was stated by the leadership to hold a second vote after two years. This time the members were not asked, it was passed at Conference


In May 1738 John preached a sermons on Romans Chapter 1. Here are some words from that sermon They are all the words of John Wesley, not mine.

 Verse 23to Adam in a vision, when he was asleep, that this lovely creature, is now bone of my bones - Probably it was revealed to him, was a piece of himself and was to be his companion, and the wife of his covenant - In token of his acceptance of her, he gave her a name, not peculiar to her, but common to her sex; she shall be called woman, Isha, a She- man, differing from man in sex only, not in nature; made of man, and joined to man. Verse 24. The sabbath and marriage were two ordinances instituted in innocence, the former for the preservation of the church, the latter for the preservation of mankind. It appears by Matt. xix, 4, 5, that it was God himself who said here, a man must leave all his relations to cleave to his wife; It should seem they are the words of Adam in God's name, laying down this law to all his posterity.    All John Wesley’s words
In the Methodist Worship Book, the introduction to the Marriage service, it is stated;
A marriage ceremony is a formal occasion when a solemn, legal contract is made between a man and a woman. In a Christian context, it is also an act of worship in which marriage is celebrated as a gift from God and the joy of the couple is shared and their commitment to ach other I witnessed by family and friends. The Marriage Service’s themes of love, hope, faithfulness, sacrifice and trust are the heart of the Christian gospel

  When people join an organisation, they are agreeing to observe all the ruling and policies of that body, and if they feel unable to do so they should leave.

I cannot understand how any man or woman, who has the  privilege of preaching in a Church, can so flagrantly disobey the teaching of the Bible.  It is gross hypocrisy.

It had been my original intention to be a Methodist Minister, when my first start in ministry was at a small Methodist Church in Chehire but  circumstances directed otherwise, and I was invited to join the Church of England.

For eleven years, being in an a Anglican/Methodist partnership, I took services in all Methodist Churches. I found the people most friendly, and indeed made friends, and the loss when the partnership broke up was a sad one. It was obvious then, that the older people were totally against the leadership giving priority to society, rather than to God.

Methodism was a great evangelical Church, now it is sadly looked upon as a Church which has lot its way and its people. 


I close with words of John Wesley

I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came down from heaven. He hath written down in a book. Give me that book. At any price give me the Book of God

May the Name of God be praised and glorified. 

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